The November portion of fall firearms deer season began in Gasconade County over the weekend, with the Missouri Department of Conservation posting an early total on the harvest.

Gasconade County Conservation Agent Jason Eikermann told the Advertiser-Courier on Monday that hunters had harvested a provisional total of 745 deer for opening weekend.

Hunters had the opportunity to participate in a voluntary Chronic wasting disease (CWD) sampling in the county during the season's first weekend, with special stations set up at Hermann City Park, and also at Owensville and Drake. One of Franklin County's four sampling stations was set up in New Haven.

According to the department, CWD is infectious and eventually fatal to all members of the deer family. There is no vaccine or cure, with the disease spread from between the animals and through the environment. The department remains involved in programs that seek to limit CWD's spread to Missouri's herds. Sampling and testing of harvested deer will continue for the remainder of the season, which is set to end after Nov. 24. Test results -- which are free -- will become available within weeks after the sampling date and can be found at

Because of coronavirus, the sampling stations this season were voluntary rather than mandatory. Gasconade County is among counties in the state's CWD Management Zone, since cases of the disease have been discovered in and near the area. Hunters were able to take their harvested deer (or the head), on the day of harvest to one of the sampling stations for testing.

The department is also promoting Missouri's Share the Harvest program, which allows deer hunters to donate venison to those in need. Locally, hunters may take harvested deer to Heberle Packing Co., 2022 Frene Creek Road, for processing and donating. The phone number is (573) 486-2795. The business is Gasconade County's only approved processor, due to the county's inclusion in the CWD management zone.